Patrick WeilOct 31, 2023
Woodrow Wilson, the Madman in the White House
A Discussion with Patrick Weil
New Books Network 2023
In this episode of International Horizons, RBI director John Torpey interviews Patrick Weil, author of The Madman in the White House: Sigmund Freud, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Lost Psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson (Harvard University Press, 2023). Weil discusses the beginnings of a book published in 1960 by Ambassador William C. Bullitt, who wrote on the mental health of President Woodrow Wilson with the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Delving into archival research, Weil found that Bullitt and Freud saw Wilson as a neurotic obsessed with his father, whom he both deeply loved and hated, and that the image of his father was later projected into other characters who first were his friends and later his enemies. Bullitt and Freud also found that Wilson had an unconscious bisexual desire that drove his love-hate relationships. Finally, the conversation offers some reflections on the difficulties presidential systems have in screening mentally unfit candidates for their positions and getting rid of them when they seem unable to fulfill their duties.
International Horizons is a podcast of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies that brings scholarly expertise to bear on our understanding of international issues. John Torpey, the host of the podcast and director of the Ralph Bunche Institute, holds conversations with prominent scholars and figures in state-of-the-art international issues in our weekly episodes.